In 1956 Frank Sinatra sang “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away”. Fast forward 60 years and it seems that half the world is doing just that.

Air travel globally is projected to double within 20 years. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that the number of passengers transported by airlines will reach over 8 billion, with Asia-Pacific set to record the largest year-on-year increases. All of this points to some rather juicy opportunities for air travel companies to engage proactively with their customers.

For most people airports aren’t normally the most fun places at the best of times though, let alone if delays caused by bad weather, strikes or IT issues creep in. With frustrations such as these potentially around every corner, it is imperative that all stakeholders in the world of aviation do everything they can to smooth over what can quite often be a stressful experience.

Lots of airlines today have apps and, like many companies, they are trying to direct as much information as they can via this channel. Not everybody has a smartphone though and not everything needs an app.

Many simple travel issues can be resolved with a simple 160-character (or less) SMS. Particularly for customers that are roaming, SMS is often more reliable than other channels, never mind it being free for people to receive almost everywhere globally. Plus, the fact that 95% of SMS are read within five minutes of them being delivered.

The number of use cases for A2P (Application-to-Person) SMS in general is limited to creativity only, the majority where air travel is concerned relating to assisting with getting flights away on time; missed departure slots cost airlines and airports a lot of money. Here are some of the most common things Mitto’s air travel related enterprise clients use A2P SMS for:

  • Check-in: other than just using SMS to inform passengers that online check-in has opened, we are seeing more and more airlines telling their customers (on the day of travel) that they can check-in their hand baggage free of charge if their flights are very busy. This helps a lot with getting flights away on time as hand baggage related issues are one of the largest contributing factors to delayed departures.
  • Departure time: where on-time departure is concerned, flights of the worst performing airlines in Europe depart over 30 minutes late. Keeping customers updated about any delays using SMS helps reduce the load on frontline customer service personnel.
  • Departure location: the largest airport in the world is King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, having a surface area bigger than the adjacent country of Bahrain! Knowing exactly which departure gate your flight leaves from and being updated of any last-minute changes is something all airlines should consider.
  • Connecting flight information: almost all of the largest airports in the world handle more connecting passengers than people who have actually reached their destinations. Providing connecting gate information and some ideas as to how best get to them is valuable.
  • Rain or shine: a nice value-add for passengers, airlines let them know about the expected weather conditions at their destination. Given excess luggage fees can often make your eyes water, any help with knowing what to pack is welcome!
  • Survey says: how many times have you received surveys via email which start by mentioning they can be expected to take 5+ minutes to complete? Too many. No wonder then that airlines can drive some great customer survey response rates using 2-ways SMS to send a handful of insightful questions that take a matter of seconds to answer.

Wherever you may be flying to next, Mitto wishes you safe travels and do keep an eye out for how your airline engages with you. You may just have some suggestions for them…